Response to the negative comments that Triumph's quality will diminish
Yesterday we revealed that Triumph is planning a huge new Indian factory that could make ten times as many bikes as the firm currently manages. And the immediate response, going by readers' comments, was a negative one.
But we think this is the best news we've heard in ages. Here's why:
Let's dispel some misunderstandings. First up, bikes built in the Indian plant won't be intended for sale in Europe, America or anywhere else; they're for India. The market over is ravenous for new bikes, albeit very different ones to the bikes that sell over here. You won't find many Bajaj, Hero or TVS machines on sale outside India for the same reason. They can sell everything they make in their homeland without the need for worldwide distribution, worldwide marketing, worldwide dealer networks and all the other hassle of being an 'international' brand. If – and it's a bigif –anyof the Indian-made Triumphs come over here, bearing in mind these will be small-capacity single-cylinder machines, they're likely to be aimed at L-plate riders. As such, they'd provide an early foothold to the Triumph brand that young riders are currently denied.
Forget any notion that Triumph could build huge numbers of bikes in the UK and ship them to India. Not only would the cost of production and shipping make it prohibitive, but India has massive import duties – something like 105% on motorcycles – which means anything not made in the country is enormously expensive. Yes, it would be lovely to have a huge manufacturing base in the UK, a worldwide powerhouse of industry like the ones we had a century ago, exporting worldwide. But it's just not feasible.
Now look at the numbers. In India, more bikes can be sold in a month than in a year in Europe. The market is growing at more than 10% per year, in a country who's economy is also growing at something like 6% per annum. Compare that to Europe, where economies are flat at best and the bike market has dropped in double-digit percentages year after year since the financial crisis began. It's easy to see where a business would prefer to have its bread-and-butter coming from.
Conclusion? This is wonderful news for Triumph. It shows enormous balls from John Bloor to go it alone in India, rather than taking the easy option of a joint venture with an existing Indian firm. If he can make it work (and let's face it, his track record says he will) then it shifts Triumph into a totally new ballpark in terms of size, away from the Ducatis and Aprilias of this world (small firms, most of which have already been swallowed by larger conglomerates). Instead it will be nearer the size of Piaggio, a firm more likely to buy others than be bought out. We're British, our bike industry has been in the doldrums for decades. Let's get behind it now it's showing signs of getting back where it should be.
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